The Reverend Lydia Sohn is a minister, writer and speaker who lives in San Diego with her husband and young son. She’s also a veritable fount of wisdom. Here, she shares the only skincare brand she uses and a decision-making trick that works every time…
What is your morning routine?
I wake up at 5 a.m. every day, and for two hours while my husband and son are asleep, I’ll read and write. These hours are like giving a gift to myself. In terms of beauty rituals, I do very little in the morning. I usually just splash my face with water and get going. Sometimes I’ll add moisturizer. The only skincare line I use for my face is Dermalogica, which I have been using for five years. I had gone to a facialist, because my face was breaking out, and my aesthetician recommended it. It’s a really great medium-weight moisturizer, not too light and not too heavy. I liked it so much, I became a big fan and started ordering all their products! Since then, I’ve been really happy with how my face looks.
In 2016, just before Lydia’s son was born.
What products are part of your “daily face”?
I look younger, so I always wear makeup in settings where I want to be taken seriously — like church on Sunday mornings — as well as to dinner parties, dates and social events. I don’t have a strong allegiance to any makeup products (like I do to Dermalogica!) and will usually try a different brand whenever a product runs out. Right now, I’m using bareMinerals foundation. To apply it, I use this liquid foundation brush, which helps the foundation go on evenly and gives really good coverage. Then, I’ll wear Glossier lipstick in Crush and MAC eyeshadow. I tend to gravitate toward violet or taupe-y shades for eyeshadow (right now, I’m into Tempting and Shale) and brown eyeliner (my favorite is this one in Demolition).
The traditional Korean wedding ceremony during Lydia’s wedding weekend.
What’s your nighttime routine? Do you have any rituals to relax and unwind?
Oh my goodness, this question gets to one of the most treasured times of my day. When my husband and I first started living together, he was shocked by the extensiveness of my evening ritual. I get very protective of it and want complete silence during this special time, so he has learned not to talk to me while I’m going through my routine. Once I step into the bathroom, he knows, ‘Okay, this is her time.’ The silence gives me a chance to unwind and reflect on my day.
Here is how it goes: After my husband puts our son to bed and I clean the kitchen from dinner, I head over to the bathroom. Even if I do more things later in the evening like read, talk to my husband or watch TV, I like doing this routine first. First, I take care of my teeth, by flossing (I use both traditional floss and then a waterpik) and brushing with my electric toothbrush. At first, I didn’t like electric toothbrushes, but a few years back, I went to the dentist and had a few cavities, and now I’m a convert. For the rest of my face, I use my products from Dermalogica. I wash my face with Special Cleansing Gel and once a week I mix it up by supplementing with Precleanse or Daily Microfoliant. Finally, I spray Multi-Active Toner and finish off with Skin Smoothing Cream. I hop into bed ideally by 9 p.m. so I can read, journal or talk to my husband about the day. Hopefully, by 10 p.m., the lights are out.
“What I look like first thing in the morning. It was my birthday, and my husband surprised me with breakfast in bed.”
What do you usually journal about?
If I ever feel lost or confused, I’ll do a unique kind of journaling, where I ask myself very specific questions and then wait for my intuition to respond. I’ll do this all through writing, to myself. So, if I left an interaction with a person feeling that something wasn’t right, then I’ll ask myself, ‘Did I accidentally do something to make them feel a certain way?’ or ‘If I were more conscious of this person, I would realize…’ and then fill in the blank. The answer always emerges, and I feel so much peace afterward.
What’s the most surprising thing about your job?
The freedom! At first, I was hesitant to pursue this line of work because I thought I had to fit into a box. Once I was actually doing ministry, I was like, ‘Oh, I can do whatever I want.’ During the prayer time after the sermon, I always leave a moment of silence to reflect upon what we’ve learned. Often we don’t do that enough. Our smartphones and podcasts and apps are always going, so I like to build a few moments of meditation into our Sunday morning worship.
How do people usually react when they hear you’re a minister?
Whether I’m on a plane or at the local moms’ group, people are often surprised to discover what my job is. They’ll start trying to be appropriate or hold back. I have this spiel I do with people I start becoming friends with, like, ‘You can be yourself!’ I love drinking and I love cursing. Loving one another and making this world a better place is the core of what I’m all about.
I know you’re a big reader. Do you have any favorite books?
I love all kinds of books, but here are the five books that have influenced me the most: 1) The Inner Voice of Love by Henry Nouwen, 2) Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner, 3) The Right to Write by Julia Cameron, 4) Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer and 5) Thirst by Mary Oliver. There’s a strong theme here, as all of these books are about uncovering and claiming one’s life path.
A big part of your work is helping people cultivate their authentic selves. Do you have advice for anyone trying to do this?
I definitely have a method. Broadly speaking, it’s through deep listening to ourselves. For example, I’m a big believer in imagination exercises, to wake up the part of the brain that’s curious and creative and unafraid of taking risks. To do this, I might say: get into a position of silence and have a conversation with yourself in your 80s. Start asking her questions about her life. What does she say? Paint me a picture of her life. Where is she, and what has she done? Paint me a picture of her life. Visualizing your future can help you get clarity.
Lydia and her mom at her brother’s wedding.
Are there any beauty tips you swear by?
A friend recommended organic virgin coconut oil as a natural makeup remover, and I am hooked. I just use a cotton pad, and voilà, my makeup is all gone!
When’s one time in your life where you felt especially beautiful?
I took an advanced philosophy class in graduate school and went into it feeling really intimidated because I didn’t have a strong philosophy background. This intimidation ended up being beneficial, though, because it made me scrupulous in my reading and writing. By the middle of the semester, I was so confident that I participated actively in every class thereafter, and even disagreed with the professor a few times! I felt especially beautiful in the classroom and it became an important turning point in my life. I realized that I did have a gift for learning, articulating my thoughts and teaching, which I had always wanted to do but was afraid I wasn’t good enough.
Last but certainly not least: what’s your overall beauty philosophy?
There is nothing sexier to me than people doing what they love. To me, people are most beautiful when they are most alive, regardless of what it is that makes them feel that way, whether that’s cooking, gardening, teaching a philosophy class or laughing with a friend.
Thank you so much, Lydia!
(Photos courtesy of Lydia Sohn.)